MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The clutch hitting that had led South Pittsburg to back-to-back trips to the Class A state baseball tournament failed to materialize Wednesday. The Pirates were eliminated with consecutive losses, first to defending state champion Decatur Riverside, 11-1, then sent home by Cascade 4-1.
Twice in the game against Riverside, South Pittsburg loaded the bases with one out but failed to score both times, and a seven-run sixth inning by Riverside blew the game open.
Cascade, which had lost to the Pirates in the tournament opener on Tuesday, outhit South Pittsburg 5-3 in Wednesday's late game.
"I couldn't be more proud of this team, especially the eight seniors," Pirates coach Wesley Stone said. "I wish it could've ended on a more positive note for them, but there are a lot of teams that would love to have made consecutive trips to the state tournament.
"It's been a great experience, and we have some kids coming back next year now that know what the expectations are for our program now. Those seniors won 110 games in four years, that's the most in program history, but today we just couldn't get a hit when we needed it."
The Pirates (33-9) took a 1-0 lead against Cascade, but freshman left-hander Tyler Reed allowed two runs in the home half of the first inning and the Pirates never rallied. Josh Thomas, who singled twice, advanced to third in the sixth with the Pirates trailing by just one run. However the Pirates failed to get him home and the Champions pushed across an insurance run the following inning.
Matt Allen, who took the loss in the first game, scored the Pirates' only run against Cascade.
"Tyler gave us a chance to win the game," Stone said. "He pitched well [allowing five hits] but we never got anything going behind him.
"We had a few chances in both games, but we just never got the clutch hit when we needed it."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...